Don’t try to fit in too much. You’re almost certain to start in Bangkok and we recommend you don’t rush off. Instead, allow a few days to soak up the vibrant capital’s up-for-it atmosphere, including at least one night on the notorious Khao San Road, before heading south to the islands, or north to Thailand’s second city Chiang Mai. To do both you’ll need at least two weeks; if you’ve got three add Kanchanaburi and the infamous Bridge Over the River Kwai to your itinerary.
Thailand is a country of temples, from the magnificent to the miniature, but try to visit them all and you’ll soon find yourself fatigued. Narrow it down to the big-hitters instead like Wat Pho and Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok, and Wat Phra Si Sanphet in Ayutthaya. Remember that Thailand is about more than architectural splendour, the street-life and beach-life are just as much a part of the experience.
Savvy street food
Thai street food is abundant, high quality and astoundingly cheap. But it can also be a fast track to food poisoning. Take sensible precautions such as washing hands before and afterwards, and above all: eat where there are crowds; a faster turnover means fresher food. And don’t drink the tap water.
Repel the enemy
Mosquitoes are everywhere, but that doesn’t mean resigning yourself to being bitten. Use a spray-on repellent with at least 50% deet during the day (100% at night) and treat clothes with a permethrin spray as soon as you arrive in the country. Be sure to do this outside though and leave for a while to dry – it’s nasty stuff.
Visiting an open-air market is a must-do and it is here that you will find the best prices and often the best goods. Thailand is a mecca for counterfeit products though, so be aware that what you’re buying is unlikely to be genuine, and never forget to haggle – the first price you’re quoted should come down by at least a third. Some of the best markets are Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, Tha Kha Floating Market near Samut Songkhram and Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar.
Get the best beds
If you’re on a budget and planning to stay in hostels and guesthouses, simply turning up and requesting a room is the cheapest way to go, and thanks to Thailand’s flourishing tourism industry you’re unlikely to have trouble finding a bed. Bear in mind though that air conditioning often costs extra and is worth every penny during the hottest months (typically May to October). If you’re willing to spend a little more on your accommodation, book mid-range or luxury hotels in advance to secure the best deals.
At times, it can feel a little like there is someone trying to rip you off on every corner in Thailand and it pays to keep your wits about you. Don’t trust randomly helpful strangers who come up to you in the street with information about public holidays and closed temples; check with your hostel or hotel instead. Always agree a price before getting in a tuk tuk and insist on any taxi you use being metered. Keep your belongings as close to you as possible, ideally strung around you in a zipped up bag.
Surely you will feel more safer when you come to Thailand mentally and physically prepared. Hope you have a wonderful time visiting the country of temples.
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